July 21, 2009
Wolf project considered in Scotland
Introducing wolves to a test site in Scotland would establish a model for controlling the over-population of red deer, scientists in Oregon said.
The plan is modeled after research at Yellowstone National Park, where the absence of large predators had allowed deer and elk to overgraze lands and damage entire ecosystems, William Ripple, a professor of forest ecosystems at Oregon State University, said in a release Monday.
Wolves were last found in Scotland more than 250 years ago, and as a result it's likely that very few natural areas now bear much resemblance to their native conditions, Ripple said.
The threat of predators changes the activities of grazing animals 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in ways that hunting by humans fails to do, Ripple said in the journal of Biological Conservation.
Ripple and researchers in Scotland propose putting wolves on a island or a huge fenced-in area and then monitoring their effects on red deer populations, behavior, and ecosystem recovery.